Saturday, April 03, 2010

Gospel for Saturday Evening, The Easter Vigil

The Resurrection of the Lord

From: Luke 24:1-12

The Women Are Told That Jesus Is Risen

[1] But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. [2] And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, [3] but when they went in they did not find the body. [4] While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; [5] and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. [6] Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, [7] that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise." [8] And they remembered his words, [9] and returning from the tomb they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. [10] Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told this to the apostles; [11] but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. [12] But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home wondering at what had happened.


1-4. The affection which led the holy women to make the necessary preparations for the embalming of Jesus' body was, perhaps, an intuition of faith which the Church would express more elaborately much later on: "We firmly believe that when his soul was dissociated from his body, his divinity continued always united both to his body in the sepulchre and to his soul in limbo" ("St Pius V Catechism", I, 5, 6).

5-8. True faith concerning the resurrection of Jesus teaches that he truly died, that is, his soul was separated from his body, and his body was in the grave for three days; and that then by his own power his body and soul were united once more, never again to be separated (cf. "St Pius V Catechism", I, 6, 7).

Although this is a strictly supernatural mystery there are some elements in it which come within the category of sense experience--death, burial, the empty tomb, appearances, etc.--and in this sense it is a demonstrable fact and one which has been verified (cf. St Pius X, "Lamentabili", 36-37).

Jesus Christ's resurrection completes the work of Redemption, "For just as by dying he endured all evil to deliver us from evil, so was he glorified in rising again to advance us towards good things, according to Rom 4:25 which says that 'he was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification'" (St Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologiae", III, q. 53, a. 1, c.).

"'Christ is alive.' This is the great truth which fills our faith with meaning. Jesus, who died on the cross, has risen. He has triumphed over death; he has overcome sorrow, anguish and the power of darkness. 'Do not be amazed' was how the angels greeted the women who came to the tomb. 'Do not be amazed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here' (Mk 16:6). 'This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it' (Ps 117:24).

"Easter is a time of joy--a joy not confined to this period of the liturgical year, for it should always be present in the Christian's heart. For Christ is alive. He is not someone who has gone, someone who existed for a time and then passed on, leaving us a wonderful example and a great memory.

"No, Christ is alive, Jesus is the Emmanuel: God with us. His Resurrection shows us that God does not abandon his own. He promised he would not: 'Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you' (Is 49:15). And he has kept his promise. His delight is still to be with the children of men (cf. Prov 8:31)" ([St] J. Escriva, "Christ Is Passing By", 102).

Through Baptism and the other sacraments, a Christian becomes part of the redemptive mystery of Christ, part of his death and resurrection: "You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col 2: 12). "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God" (Col 3:13).

9-12. The first people to whom the angel announced the birth of Christ were the shepherds at Bethlehem; and the first to be told of his resurrection are these devout women: one further sign of God's preference for simple and sincere souls is the fact that he gives themthis honor which the world would not appreciate (cf. Mt 11:25). But it is not only their simplicity and kindness and sincerity that attracts him: poor people (such as shepherds) and women were looked down on in those times, and Jesus loves anyone who is humbled by the pride of men. The women's very simplicity and goodness lead them to go immediately to Peter and the Apostles to tell them everything they have seen and heard. Peter, whom Christ promised to make his vicar on earth (cf. Mt 16:18) feels he must take the initiative in checking out their story.
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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